Saturday, May 03, 2014

Live Below the Line - Final Thoughts

We finished. 'I woke up this morning and I could eat what I wanted' will never make the blues archive but it sure felt good. Thing is. I woke up hungry, but I didn't mind. I was off for a good cooked breakfast with a load of other guys. I could wait. A huge amount of the craving for food is psychological.

A few concluding thoughts from the week:

1. It would not take much more to make me happy. I didn't really miss alcohol (which was a relief). If I doubled my food budget this week I'd feel it was a luxury.

2. Just because I can afford to save time with pre-prepared food doesn't mean I need to quite so often. My home-made bread was nicer than about 90% of the loaves I could buy.

3. The recycling box is commensurately less full of food packaging than usual.

4. I had rice, pasta and oats left. Every last drop of protein and fresh vegetable had been squeezed out. If I could have found the package size to buy fewer carbs and save money it would have been good to have more carrots, onions and cheese. Low budget shopping is dull and store cupboards cannot be built up. Maybe foodbanks should include some things people never buy on a budget - stock cubes, spices, pestos etc

5. I worked hard to plan how to make the best of the last drops. For what it's worth, on the last night we had a vegetable risotto. Our box still contained:

1 carrot
1 slice of onion
Loads of frozen peas
Half a cauliflower
Half a packet (about 250mls) of pasata
1 eating apple and one old windfall from 2013
Cheap margarine/spread
Some bread
Four sachets of white sugar and one of brown

Soften a little chopped onion, carrot and cauliflower in a little oil. Set aside. Save the carrot peel, cauli leaves and stalk and onion skin. Make a vegetable stock with water and salt.

Add rice to another lightly oiled pan and mix well. On low heat slowly add strained stock and pasata to make risotto, stirring all the time as with low oil content it will stick easily. Keep adding until rice will absorb no more liquid and is cooked. Then add frozen peas to softened vegetables until all is hot. Finally add vegetables to rice, stir well, and top with fresh herbs from garden.

Serve at once.

I softened the peeled and cored apples in a little spread. I lined two small ramekins with spread and a little sugar then bread. I filled the bread cases with apple and then topped with bread, spread and brown sugar. Cooked in oven for 25 minutes to maker mini charlottes. They were lovely. A bit of cream and spread not butter would have made them dinner-party standard (and come out of the ramekins more easily).

5. A person who had not tried the week told me 'What you should do next week is work out how little you need to spend on food...'

This was infuriating. If you've not been on the battle-field don't tell me how to win the war.

6. I'm really, really glad to have had this challenge and am sending the money saved on food to the Hunger Project.

7. My cooked breakfast in the pub today cost the same as last week's food budget - £5 - but I didn't enjoy it that much.

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